So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
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The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:
Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
The Tree and the Telephone Pole
I Do Not Know Their Names
Today I am Young
A Night Poem
Siren of the Sea
If I Were a Dragon
To the Dreamers Leave the Sky
The Honor of the Oyster
Return From San Diego
A Late Summer's Night
Of Dragons and Men
The Edge of the World
The Snake's Terror
Metaphysics and the Middaymoon
Of Adventures in Foreign Lands
The Rogue Wave: The Unedited Version
Adventures in the PRC
Voyage of Discovery
Drinking the Blood of Goats
Ticket for a Phantom Bus
Os peixes nadam o mar
Three Villages Far Away
The River Weser
Children I Should Have Kidnapped, Part I
Let's Get You Out of Those Clothes
If Underwear Could Speak
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER
Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
To Sir, With Love
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Hunger Games
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
The Name of the Wind
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre à la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
Sunday. 8.19.07 12:23 am
Ok, so there are two camps among planetary explorers such as myself: we'll call them the "Pussy-Footed Protectors" and the "Soldiers of Fortune".
The people from the Planetary Protection Society are charged with the mission to protect the planets from the advances of humankind and preserve their purity as scientific sites (aka, no nuking the moon!). Take the example of Lake Vostok, for example. Lake Vostok is a gigantic lake that lies miles beneath the Antarctic Ice. It can be seen by ice-penetrating radar, but no one has ever dug down far enough to actually come into contact with the lake. In fact, the lake is under so much ice, that it has been in contact with the surface of the earth for maybe a million years.
There is very likely life down there, as we have found life in every other environment on the earth, and this environment has plentiful liquid water to provide a habitat. However, the forms of life that live in the lake have been separated from all other kinds of life for thousands of years. In normal ecosystems, separations of populations because of physical barriers (think islands) can result in pretty dramatic differences and rapid speciation. The life in Lake Vostok is a gold mine for evolutionary biology... a chance to see how life might have gone differently.
Recently the Russians have developed and employed drilling equipment capable of drilling all the way through the ice and into Lake Vostok. They stopped about 300ft short of penetrating the lake. Why? Because the drill bit isn't sterile. In addition to being dirty from dirt, oil, grease, freon (to keep the hole from freezing) etc, it is guaranteed that the drill bit is contaminated with some kind of organisms from the surface. If these organisms were introduced to Lake Vostok, it's possible that they would proliferate and destroy all of the native species that live there now before anyone got the chance to properly study them. So what does that mean, then? Are we just going to stop and never drill into Lake Vostok to see what happened? Should we just keep drilling, thinking that all in all we'll contaminate the lake only a little bit so a little sacrifice of some of the native life is worth the information we'll get out? Are we ethically bound to respect the life that lives in the lake-- even to the point of never disturbing it at all and thus never knowing?
Right now the plan is to wait on it. Scientists are confident that at some point in the future a method of "clean drilling" will be devised so that the drill bit can be sterilized and can work without pumping freon and aviation fuel down into the hole. This might be done by melting, but we wouldn't really wanting to significantly heat up the lake, either. So the project has been put on hold for an undetermined amount of time. If you recall my long-winded entries on the history of the Rhine, this would be akin to saying, "Let's not try to adjust the flow and course of the river, because we're not very good at hydrological engineering. We should probably just wait until our children or our children's children get better at hydrological engineering and then maybe they can try."
Some people say this might have been a better thing to do, but we'll never know. It's equally possible that the loss of those hundred years of commerce would have made modern-day industrialized Germany completely impossible (i.e., there would have been no coal industry in the Ruhr Valley and German's advanced chemical factories might never have cropped up, taking away the industrial heart of Germany itself!
Lake Vostok is a good Earth analog to Jupiter's moon Europa. Just like Vostok, Europa is thought to have a large body of water that lies beneath an icy shell (though they're still arguing over how thick the shell is). It remains liquid water partially from the pressure of the overlying ice, and partially from geothermal heat, on Europa caused by the way the moon gets flexed and kneaded because of the pull of Jupiter and the passing of its other large moons. One hope of the planetary community is that we can develop and test our instruments on Lake Vostok and then take these instruments with us to Europa. Because if life exists on Europa, it would have been separated from life on Earth for more than one million years. It would have been charting its own course of evolution since the beginning of the Solar System- since the beginning of life itself. The scientists don't want to run the risk of contaminating it, even if that means they'll die before ever knowing if there is life Out There.
So on Mars we're having this little battle because we've figured out that running water once flowed on the Martian surface. Recently some of us have claimed that here or there, depending on conditions, liquid water still runs on the surface. These would be the key places to look for extant life, if it exists at all. In fact, if anything, the places where water could still run today are increasing in number. Recently my advisor contended that a very common feature on parts of Mars is made by seeping liquid water. However, this theory made the Planetary Protectionists very worried. Now they want to designate the entire planet of Mars as a "special region". That means that there is no way that any space craft could land on the red planet without first going through a sterilization process that costs 50 MILLION DOLLARS. Tacked onto the back of sometimes already billion dollars missions, this extra cost makes almost every mission we've planned impossibly expensive.
So basically we'd never get to explore the planet. Ironically we've been searching for life, but just when we think it might be more likely that we could find it, because we think we might be likely to find it, we are no longer allowed to look for it. They're call off the search because they're afraid that we might find what we've always been looking for.
Other people say this: Ok. So here is Mars... it's a random piece of rock floating in space. The only reason it's important is because we're interested in studying it. Why does it matter if there is life on Mars or not if we're not going to find it out? What importance does this random life in the middle of nowhere Milky Way have if nobody ever finds it?
Do we give the potential Martian life its importance, or does all life just inherently have importance, that we should respect? It seems like most godless scientists would say that the life is only really important because we're looking for it. But their are a lot of scientists leading the charge to "protect it". Why? Is it the lovely dovey hippie attitude that many scientists buy into, that life is important for some unknown reason like that we all come from Mother Earth? What is the name of the philosophy that holds that despite a profound disbelief in God that all life forms are still sacred? What authority bestows their equality? How can we even talk about equality when they are all just differently adapted species in the throes of evolution with no significance or cosmic importance at all?
Some of the scientists that see this philosophical inconsistency insist that they only want to protect the planet so that future scientists with more sterile techniques won't find their study areas contaminated by those foolish turn-of-the-century explorers that came first and botched the job (like introducing rabbits to Australia).
Eighteenth-Century-Manifest-Destiny Zanzibar says "Go for it! What's the point of having planets if we don't get to explore them! How much contamination could we possibly bring?? (ans: a lot more than you'd think). God made the universe so that we could explore it and colonize it. Let's TERRAFORM THE great big red S.O.B! (for glory, god and gold and the Virginia Company!)
The other half of me doesn't really care if we find life or not and thinks it doesn't really matter, nor will it change in the least the general way in which she leads her life.
The third half of me recalls how I get angry about stupid archaeologists digging up people's sacred grave sites and throwing their bones all over the place in the name of the scientific search for information and I think that we should just mind our own business for once. But the difference there of course is that we know that those people who are dead were once living creatures, and that they expressly didn't want people to disturb their eternal peace. On Mars we have no idea if this life even exists, and if it does- what if it wants to be found?
Meanwhile we're desperately backtracking and trying to cast doubt upon our own theory so that they'll stop roping off the entire planet and let us go to random boring places, and possibly even send human beings (those filthy, microbe-ridden creatures!) They're still roping off anywhere where we could possibly find life. So we return again to the question: if we can't go to the places where there might be life, why are we going at all? Cheers if you made it through that whole entry. I'd love to know what you think about it, and what deep, fabric-of-the-universe philosophical outlook you are using to inform your decision.
Saturday. 8.18.07 12:38 am
Today I woke up. I've been in my new apartment since Tuesday. We've been without hot water since Tuesday, too. Today we were supposed to get it finally but when I took a shower this morning (or rather, washed my hair under the faucet and splashed water on myself) it was still freezing cold.
Then the gas-guy shows up. Can't even find the water heater. When he finally finds it, says that he won't turn on the gas til the exhaust pipe is clean. Only a pipe-cleaning company can do that. So my landlord has to call a pipe cleaning company and get the pipe cleaned, and THEN he'll turn on the gas, but they'll have to set up another appointment.
So in part due to this, I'm late for work. I also have a lot of heavy stuff I have to bring, so I drive. But I since I never usually drive I forget to dash out and move it every two hours (which is how parking works around here) so I get a parking ticket.
I'm making a sketch on the computer of this large area later in the afternoon. You don't usually save it til the end because saving it makes it a bit difficult to change after the fact. Suddenly there is a wave of power that comes over the lab and two computers turn off suddenly. We turn around in our chairs, desperately saving our work. My cursor is an X instead of an arrow... the program is being slow and buggy... I can't save, I can't make it save......
...all of the electricity goes out. With it, my sketch.
So after work I go home and eat and then meet up with A to go to kareoke. Since it's Rhode Island and the streets change names 50 million times, we drive around for like a half an hour before we find it. It's closed for renovation for the summer- it reopens in four days.
We go eat some dessert instead and then A drops me off at my car. While I was gone (for about 2.5 hours), someone had backed into my car. So hard, in fact, that the hood is all bent in half and the indicator light keeps falling out. The engine isn't damaged and the lights still work, but the hood and the piece that the hood fits into have both been all bent up.
And! The best part is.....!!!
No note. Hit and run.
ugh. So I drove to the police station which was right around the corner...
... and it was closed. That's right... the POLICE STATION was CLOSED.
Good riddance, August 17th.
Monday. 8.13.07 4:48 pm
Update on my gay stripper roommate!
So he apparently got drunk and crashed his car into something. The left side of the front bumper is a twisted crunch of metal, glass and plastic. It looks like the car's guts are hanging out and nobody has done anything to bind them in. The right rear tire is completely slashed and busted (don't know how that happened) and there is a sticker on the car advising the owner that the car has been found by the police and will be towed to the impound. The license number has been taken, it adds. The rumor is that after he crashed the car he abandoned it, and later he had it towed back to our parking lot, where it sits today. He then got a rental car, which means we have too many cars in the lot which means Chris parked me in.
By chance my roommate Chris ran into our old roommate, Trusty M, while running. Thus the "ran" into her, haha. She invited him in for lemonade or something and he told her about Gay-Stripper Roommate. She was in shock. That was her current roommate's old roommate! Furthermore, he was in her class at medical school! We learned some new things about him:
--Apparently not all gay. (Maybe bi, maybe not gay at all, just at the club)
--"Overnites" with like three different chicks a week (never the same chick)
--Stays out til 5 in the morning every night (we already kind of knew that)
--Everyone in medical school talks about him all the time and says, "THAT guy is going to be DOCTOR????"
In other news, this guy "Greg" wants to move into my room and sleep there on Tuesday night. However, I don't get the keys to my new apartment until Tuesday night. So I have to move out all my stuff Tuesday night... while Greg is moving his in?? This wouldn't be so bad if tonight I could perhaps move all my stuff downstairs so that the room would be empty and I could clean it out tomorrow. However, I don't know if that is wise given that my other roommate is apparently a kleptomaniac. What do I do???? I guess I could call my new landlord and ask for the keys earlier, but my roommate and I already arranged to have Wednesday off to move and I can't have Tuesday too!
I guess I'll put all my worthless stuff downstairs and keep everything I'd rather she didn't steal in my room or in the trunk of my car.
Ouh, le complications of life.
The Jaguar, the Panther, and the Fox
Saturday. 8.11.07 5:15 pm
I slept until 11:30. Most of the last part of this sleep was a nightmare. It was a really complicated nightmare-- there was this band of animals, a jaguar, a black panther and a red fox that was terrorizing the neighborhood. They were eating everyone's dogs and cats right out of their backyards. They ate our Bernese Mountain Dog (that we don't actually have). I ran outside and called in our [real] dog Maggie so that she wouldn't get eaten either. But it was impossible to live all the time in fear. Eventually we had to let Maggie out to go to the bathroom. We took turns escorting her down the stairs from the deck to the grass. She was nervous and wouldn't always go right away, looking at us with her flat almond eyes. None of the neighbors would leave the house for fear of the animals. We heard that someone's dog had been attacked by the band and while the people ran outside and screamed at the animals to get away and watched their dog be torn to pieces, a gang of brutish men broke into their house from the other side and robbed them blind.
My dad is a city council man for our city, and we expected him to be calling people and organizing to have these creatures taken care of, but he was unusually silent and thoughtful. While we were fussing over Maggie and combing the house to make sure all of the doors to the outside were locked, he was staring out the door of the laundry room, seeming like he was somewhere very far away.
I was nervous as hell and I was checking the doors over and over and over again. How was it that my house has SO many doors? There is usually always one that is unlocked. From time to time I would hear or see the jaguar or the panther or the fox through the window and I would double my speed.
Finally, after I woke up for several minutes [7:35am, a relic of my work week wake up time] we confronted my dad. "Aren't you going to do something? Aren't you going to try to save the neighborhood? We can't live like this forever!" Outside the night was getting stormy and dark.
He sighed very heavily. "I can't do that." he said. "I know them. I know the three of them." We were shocked. "You know them?" He tried to explain. "They used to be my friends, you know, back in Wisconsin, when I was a kid. They discovered this terrible power of transformation. They asked me if I wanted to join them.... I said no. I always wondered if that was the right choice. They won't hurt our Maggie, not if they realize that this house belongs to me. I need to talk to them, but in their animal state it is possible that they wouldn't recognize me until after they attacked. I've put up signs on the windows, telling them who I am. As they circle our house, they will read them. Then... they will come to me."
"But... these are evil men!" we said. "If you knew who they were, why didn't you ever turn them in!"
"They weren't evil men back then... and they were always my friends... I couldn't turn them in, not the way they were... not with what they had become. What kind of life would that be? Back then they had formed a squad, just the three of them... they did a kind of vigilante justice. They attacked people, or scared people, but only evil people who needed to be taught a lesson. They were standing up for the community where our law enforcement was failing. I just couldn't reconcile myself with some of their methods... that's why I didn't join them. I have to figure out what has gone wrong. I need to talk to them, I can't just let them be shot."
We were all shocked. At that point the back of the house started shaking as the doors were being battered by the big cats. We could hear them growling out there in the rain. At the front of the house the doors started to rattle as well... this time the large, troll-like men were slamming the doors with their huge bodies, trying to break them down. Finally one of the doors gave and the hordes of men came flooding into the house. I heard my dog give a yelp from the living room and I ran to get her just as at the back of the house the kitchen window gave way and the jaguar and the fox came pouring in, sliding on the island in the kitchen. I grabbed the dog bodily from where she cowered next to the piano and took her back into the kitchen. The jaguar and the fox had disappeared. There was a mud soaked man of my dad's age sitting at the counter. He breathed heavily in and out. He was talking to my dad. My dad saw me coming in through the door and said, "This is The Jaguar." I nodded to him and he looked up at me through his dripping brows. I saw another mud soaked man standing towards the kitchen table. "You must be The Fox," I said. He nodded a bit sheepishly. I got the impression that he didn't find his moniker to be as fearsome as the others in the group. I guessed that you didn't actually get to choose which kind of animal you changed into. "What a hell of a way to have a reunion," said the Jaguar wearily. For the first time my dad's expression had gone from worried to angry. He asked the Jaguar what the hell had happened to them. The Jaguar didn't want to answer in the presence of his men. He looked like a man who had been under a terrible spell and was only just now realizing all the things that he had done.
Then there came a deafening growl from outside. The men rushed to the windows. The black panther, barely visible in the darkness, was strutting defiantly up and down the backyard, flicking its tail back and forth. It looked injured. The men like hungry animals rushed out the back door and down the stairs from the deck. It was our turn to run to the windows. We didn't know what kind of words were being exchanged between the haggard, evil-faced men and the injured panther, but they had formed a circle around it and it was pacing, growling. Suddenly the men attacked. The panther mauled the first man and turned on the others, tearing each successive man to pieces. But the circle closed and they grabbed the panther by the neck and started beating it to death with their fists.
The Fox made a start as if to run out of the house and intervene, but The Jaguar put his hand on his shoulder. "No." he said. "You know he's doing what is right." The Fox agitatedly turned from the window. "We should be out there with him, dying for what we have done."
"We must remain, to insure that what we did is put right, and that those monsters out there no longer terrorize or use anyone like they did to us and this town."
The men, more like trolls now, had finished with the panther, who lay shiny and black and still in the long grass out by the river in our backyard. The ones who had survived the encounter went off in different directions and disappeared into the darkness.
"He was our leader," The Jaguar explained. "In a sense. Those men... they tricked us... they ensnared us in their horrible spells... they turned us slowly into something we never wanted to be. When we saw your signs outside, Dave, we realized in one instant what we had become! We couldn't take it! It was agony realizing all the things we had done, the crimes we had committed... all of those innocent pets we had eaten as our thirst for blood had increased. The longer we stayed in the bodies of those animals, the worse it became... the more like hounds we were for those men. But The Panther was our leader. He knew that if one of us died, the men would go on, still using whomever was left. But if he died, they would disband their horrible operation. The Panther was the strongest and most fearsome of us all. That is why he called them out to him just now. He wasn't really injured, except in his heart. He knew they would try to attack him if he was weak, because they were greedy for power. But he also knew if they succeeded in killing him, the spell would be broken."
"Can you still change?" asked my father.
"I don't know," answered The Fox, "but I am never again going to try." The Jaguar nodded. The three old friends looked as if they would embrace, but instead looked stonily at one another, all too aware of the absence of one of them, the one who still lay in our backyard, his blood flowing out and intermixing with the rain.
When I woke up again it was about 11:30.
Then I ate some cinnamon toast and packed my things until about 1:30. Then I fell asleep again until 5:30. Really, I could probably go back to sleep right after dinner. We'll see. It's been a strange [non]day.
Friday. 8.10.07 9:19 pm
She crouched down further behind the barrels. What was she going to do now? Would invisible people notice if she came walking out, visible? That is... could they see one another? She had no idea how such things worked. It was certainly something they had failed to cover in her science class, along with everything else that seemed helpful for the real world.
There was only one way to find out. After all, nothing could be as strange as the place she had just come from, and these people seemed friendly enough. All she had to do was reach the edge of town- and then... then?
She squeezed out from behind the barrels and walked boldly into the crowd, her feet sinking into the shimmering golden sand that seemed to coat everything. Some of the invisible people seemed to turn towards her as she walked, but nobody moved to intercept her and nobody cried out at her.
Which way out of town? She decided to ask someone. Was everyone looking at her? No, just a few here and there, she thought. But she couldn't see their eyes, anyway, so how could you tell?
She should ask someone who looked like they knew where things were... someone who didn't look too busy, either. It was so difficult when you could not even see whether their face was kindly or their eyes focused on some important task. This was much more difficult than asking things of normal strangers, which in her opinion was already scary enough.
Tentatively she approached what looked like a large, floating dress wearing a fancy hat and carrying a parasol next to a finely tailored three-piece suit with a smart-looking walking stick.
"Excuse me very much," she said in her most polite voice, the one she always used with her father's important University guests, "Can you tell me which way it is to the edge of town, if you please?"
The large hat turned down at her. "My goodness," it said, or rather, the lady beneath the hat said, addressing the front of her jumper, "what an ostentatious accessory you have, young lady."
She looked down at her clothes. She was wearing a simple red jumper with a white undershirt, black socks, patent leather shoes and the red scarf her grandmother had knitted for her. That didn't seem very ostentatious at all.
She bowed apologetically. "I'm very sorry, ma'am." It seemed very frightening to stare at the blank space where the woman's face should be. One could not even guage her expression!
The hat jerked back suddenly. "Oh, my, I quite forgot that they talk! It's been so long since I've journeyed to any country where that is the style!" There was a fit of laughing, which seemed to contain more than one ladies' voice.
She looked around, startled, to see where the other voices had come from, but the other people in the marketplace seemed abnormally quiet and still.
"Why does it stare into empty space?" asked a different voice from the direction of the invisible woman, seeming to address again the front of her jumper instead of her face. "I've never heard good things about them," said a muffled female voice. "Just between you an me, I think they're a little tacky."
She stared wide-eyed at the dress, unsure of what to say. What did they mean when they said "it". What was staring into empty space?
"Why won't you answer me?" said the second voice, speaking from the vicinity of the dress. A velvet-glove emerged from the dress's sleeve and plucked at her jumper. "Hello!?!" said a fourth voice from the glove itself.
The glove flew back into the sleeve as if it had been burnt.
"Why.... I think it's DEAD!" it cried.
For a moment there was a pause, like a great taking in of breath as everyone in the marketplace drew back from her a single step. Then chaos was unleashed. Before she could even protest the hat gave a loud scream and fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. The dress leaned heavily against the three-piece-suit, dropping the parasol and leaving both velvet gloves hanging momentarily in the air. The muffled voice from within the dress began screaming in loud sharp bursts- and would not stop screaming. The three-piece-suit made a lunge towards her, but it could not make a proper move as it was burdened by the weight of the fancy dress and in many different pitches of men's voices it was trying to soothe the screaming voice from the interior of the dress.
Suddenly she was struck from behind by something hard and small. A radish! The urchins and the shop keeper had both turned from their argument and were throwing radishes at her! Without thinking, she started to run, blindly dashing away from the advancing mass of clothing and into any open space.
"MURDERER!" someone shouted, "It must have killed them!!"
She looked up too late to avoid running into a knot of customers emerging en masse from a nearby stall. They grabbed her fiercely with their sleeve cuffs and pant cuffs and anything they could muster and threw her to the sandy ground. She wrestled against them-- their strangeness, their many voices, their lack of faces- their lack of hands, their lack of anything human besides clothes! Clothes!! Sand was filling up her shoes and getting in her ears and eyes. A large amount went spilling down the back of her neck.
Then there was a shout, a shout which emanated from her but at the same time certainly did not emanate from her at all.
"Get away! Get away! You hear! She didn't kill us! You hear! We're very much alive!"
The jackets and workshirts that she had been tussling with got to their feet, shrugging their headless shoulders and turning to one another. She was pulled up by her jumper... quite literally pulled up by it as she was certainly untouched by anything else.
"I am quite sorry." said the voice, coming decidedly from her jumper itself, which was now dirty beyond belief. "I believe you thought that we were dead. We are not. Thank-you for your concern, but my goodness, what a reaction! We had employed this human to ferry us through this country so that we could rest ourselves from our long travel. I am sorry, I am a foreigner and not used to the customs here. I did not realize that our human would find trouble. I understand that you are not used to seeing humans here."
The crowd rustled amongst itself in its strange, thatchy voices. Some apologies were mumbled, and they began self-consciously brushing themselves off.
The three-piece-suit finally came foward. He was cradling the lady's hat in the crook of his sleeve. "Please, young lady, let me apologize," he said, addressing her jumper, "we have heard stories about human beings wearing about suits of lifeless clothing... you can imagine how horrifying that would be... I am so sorry for our error. Please know that we welcome foreigners in our peaceful land, and I hope you do not judge it by our hasty actions."
She curtsied involuntarily and gave an awkward bow.
"Of course no offense has been meant, and none shall be taken," replied her jumper generously. "If you will kindly point us to the way out of the city, all will be forgiven."
This Webcomic is My Life
Friday. 8.10.07 8:07 pm
Thursday. 8.9.07 9:42 pm
"Wow!" said my advisor, looking over my shoulder at where I was pointing on Mars.
"You've made a discovery!!"
Somehow I wasn't really that excited about my discovery. I don't even know what my discovery implies, and now I have to write an abstract about it for a conference in Moscow that I'm not even going to.
My advisor reassured me earlier that he wasn't going to just make me into a "mechanic", someone who knows how to do everything but never gets to really interpret and discover things in her own research (because that's kind of what's happening right now with the Mars General Circulation Model). Well, frankly, I'm much better at being a mechanic, and I get a lot more pleasure out of it than I get out of "making discoveries". I like helping people better than I like being "famous". My perfect job would be if someone gave me a problem, I went out into the field and did all the field work, came back home, analyzed it all in a lab, made figures, wrote a lit-review, methods, and results, and then somebody else came along and praised me profusely, wrote my conclusion, and ran away with my paper to do with it as they pleased. They could really just write the whole paper if they wanted.
That is to say, I like figuring out how to solve problems... I don't really care what the answer is. Does that make me a bad scientist? Hmm... I think this means I'm going to have to go into industry....
Hot hot heat
Thursday. 8.9.07 12:35 am
If were to write a series of books based on my friend Toku and his adventures in America, the first one would naturally be "Tokuhiro Comes To America" and there would be one called "Tokuhiro Goes to New York City" and of course "Tokuhiro Goes to the Beach" and maybe "Merry Christmas, Tokuhiro!"
But the book that would be about today would be called
"Tokuhiro Saves the Day"
because that is precisely what he did.
It was after work, around 6:30 or so, and I was still working as I often am, between checking the rates of U-Hauls and reading the Onion, of course, and Toku came down into the lab. He was so sorry to bother me, he got across, but the RELAB was very hot. The RELAB is a laboratory run by some of my favorite professors which measures the spectra of small objects (oftentimes meteorites and lunar rocks and soils). It is very expensive and delicate. In fact, in order to enter the RELAB you must don little white booties and spin yourself in through one of those darkroom doors. The fact that it was hot was a little disturbing-- after all, some of the instruments in there are dedicated to measuring things in the near IR part of the spectrum... heat! Toku indicated that it is usually not hot in there. So Toku found the closely guarded code to the door and we booted up and spun around into the lab, where it was about 79 degrees, even though the thermostat was set with a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 60 degrees F. There was even a humidity guage... I began to think that someone liked to strictly regulate the heat in this room and that something had gone quite awry.
So I called. I called everyone I could think of. The head of the relab was on a ranch in New Mexico for the summer. The second in command is in Japan. We called almost every professor in the planetary department with no success. Then I called all of the students who had ever worked in RELAB. No success--- they were all supposed to be playing frisbee until 9 pm! Then I called all of the technical staff. Then the administrative staff. I finally got one of the secretaries who was like, "What? I don't think we can do anything. I'll call someone tomorrow if you want. But write me an email, because I'm definitely going to forget about whatever it is that you said was going on by tomorrow." I got a hold of some random students, who suggested some other people to call, but I couldn't reach those people, either.
We went back up to the lab, where in a half an hour the temperature had climbed to 83 degrees.
Surely there was an emergency number? Toku said that he emailed the second-in-command in Japan, since he checks his email a lot. I had no idea what time it would be in Japan. Toku thanked profusely me for my help accompanying his words with a series of short bows but worried that I worried too much. He told me that he would attend to the problem himself from now on because he hadn't meant to disturb me when I was busy. I looked at him dubiously but I agreed that I'd go home and since he works late I told him to check on the lab later tonight and call me if it was "very very hot".
As a last effort, I sent an email out to everyone that I had called and some people who I hadn't (namely the Professor in Charge of Everything), explaining the problem. It was she who finally wrote me back (the only one out of the lot to respond at all). She called the emergency number that had been escaping me and a crack team of the building maintenance team was dispatched to fix the problem immediately. Her email was littered with exclamation marks.
So as far as I know, everything is going to be ok.
And all because of Tokuhiro, who Saved the Day.
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